WINTER REEDS by Holland Kane


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A documentary filmmaker finds himself embroiled in deception when his rival is found murdered amid a decades-old mystery.

Mike Harrison is on the cusp of establishing himself as a filmmaker when he arrives in Hallmark County, a small northwest town with biting winters where everyone knows each other’s history and the sheriff’s word is law. The town seems to have its own set of rules, and Mike’s innocent research takes him deep into old mysteries and buried secrets that the sheriff is resolutely trying to keep hidden. Mike is determined to solve the case of a mysterious arson at a car dealership 20 years ago, which left two people dead. His research awards him several enemies, however, most notably Cole, a man who, like Mike, vies for Katie Ames’ affection. Suspicious of Cole’s bullying nature, Mike also resents his hold on Katie; he wishes Cole would just disappear. Then one snowy night after Mike had been sleepwalking, he discovers that Cole has been found dead. The novel is filled with unexpected twists and turns, as people whom Mike thought trustworthy turn out to be anything but. Both he and Katie become prime suspects and unable to speak freely with each other. Although Mike is initially a somewhat bland character, he turns heroic when working to find answers despite imminent danger, and the pieces of the town’s mysteries and corruption come together through his bold efforts. In a compelling development, he doesn’t even know if he’s innocent: “The weirdest feeling came over me as I saw my dead rival.  It was partly sorrow, a regret that life’s unforeseen twists could damage anyone quickly, but my sorrow was tainted with satisfaction.” At times, the writing can be trite, but the pacing of the unfolding mystery is satisfyingly quick and easy to read. Kane spins a fascinating web of discoveries and intrigue, and the surprises don’t stop until the very end.

A gripping tale of how some secrets can’t be buried.

Page count: 261pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
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